What the papers say: Swann acts on WH Smith results

WH Smith CEO Kate Swann successfully combined two tactics when she announced the firm’s worst results in 200 years. At the helm for under a year, she used the twin-track strategy of holding her predecessor responsible and ‘kitchen-sinking’ – getting the bad news over in one go – to full effect.

‘Swann has prepared the way for a profits recovery of Lazarus proportions by loading as much junk as she can find into today’s accounts,’ commented The Times (14 October), while The Guardian observed Swann’s ‘thorough hand-bagging’ (15 October) of Richard Handover, as she emphasised that she had inherited ‘a mess… I had expected it to be better run’.

Yet the grim reality of the former high-street stalwart escaped no one. Squeezed by supermarkets and the internet, many retailers are struggling to justify their identity and raison d’etre: ‘[WH Smith’s] format has outlived its purpose… only shock treatment and a radical makeover can save it from a slide into retail oblivion,’ noted thisislondon (14 October), a view echoed widely elsewhere.

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow. www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk

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